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|Name:||Koschei Bessmertny | Tsar of Life|
“The Causations of the Great War were several. First, the avid student must be aware that when the world was young it knew only seven things: water, life and death, salt, night, birds, and the length of an hour. Each of these things had Tsars or Tsaritsas, and chief among these were the Tsar of Death and the Tsar of Life.
The world is a slow learner and only after eons did it master the techniques of the sun, earth, sugar, the length of a year, and men. The Tsars or Tsaritsas retreated into mountains and snow. They stayed far from each other out of family respect, but had no interest in these new things, which were surely passing fashions.
But the Tsar of Death and the Tsar of Life greatly feared one another, for Death is surrounded by souls, and is never lonely, and the Tsar of Life had hidden his death away in a place deeper than secrets, and more secret than depth. The Tsaritsa of Salt could not reconcile them, though they were brothers, and the Tsaritsa of Water could not find an ocean wide enough to place between them.
After a space of time longer than it takes the stars to draw breath together, the Tsar of Death was so well loved by his court of souls that he became puffed up and proud. He bedecked himself in onyx, agate, and hematite, and gave bayonets of ice, and cannons of bone, and horses of drifting ash with eyes and nostrils of red sparks to each of the souls that had perished in the long, tawdry history of the world.
Together this great army, with shrouds flying like banners and trumpets of twelve swords lashed together marched out across the deep snow and into the lonely kingdom of the Tsar of Life.”
Koschei is from Catherynne M. Valente's novel Deathless. Also the Russian myth figure of the same name. None of this is mine.